Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Muslim Women's Activism in Jammu & Kashmir 1947-2010 and the Medialisation of Islamic Feminism

In this research I would like to examine the discursive category of Islamic Feminism in Indian Administered Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Initially, I will problematize the categories of 'Islamic' and 'Feminism' and explore reactions to the label/discourse amongst feminists. In the context of J&K, I will also examine who the local women actors are and if they identify themselves with the discourse of Islamic feminism. If so, are they representing new organisational forms or the “feminisation” of existing patriarchal organisational forms and the co-opting of the 'Muslim Women's Agenda' into broader nationalist, separatist and militant movements. To what extent does this transform secular gender discourses? By undertaking this part of the research, I would like to establish the degree to which the discourses of Islamic feminism in J&K are home-grown phenomena and/or represent a trend towards a transnational and normative exploration of gender and Islam.

Furthermore, it is essential to highlight the historical involvement of Muslim women in publicly promoting their agendas in J&K, in order to contextualise the relatively late arrival of Islamic feminism in women's rights discourses. How did Muslim women gain access to public spaces and were they part of transnational knowledge production and communication of Islamic/Secular/Socialist/ Feminist discourses? This will allow me to analyse the role of Muslim women in the struggle for education, the inclusion of the women's agenda with respect to the Naya (New) Kashmir Manifesto and their involvement with Women's Self Defence Corp in 1947.

There is resistance to Islamic feminist agendas as well as secular feminist agendas, therefore it is important to examine possible sources of this resistance in J&K and establishing this leads the research to question what form does women's counter-resistance take. Here I would like to examine the role of Art/Music/Drama as sites of medialisation which can facilitate this counter-resistance.

In questioning the dichotomy between the categories of South Asian Islam as pluralistic and tolerant in the Sufi tradition and normative Islam as non indigenous, essentialist and a threat to plurality, I would like to see to what extent Muslim women actors are utilising aspects of both to promote their agendas. With reference to Kashmiriyat (or Kashmiri-ness is the basis on which a nationalist ideology was formulated during the Dogra reign (1846-1947) and particularly in the early 20th century) and the pluralistic, tolerant Sufi Islamic ideal, I will ask whether this is in fact just a mythical aspirational tool for the promotion of ethno-nationalism and if it forms a part of a present day Islamic feminist discourse on identity in Kashmir. Regarding normative Islam is it ‘non-indigenous’ or has there historically been a local movement for “pure” Islam and support for an Islamic Caliphate and/or has there been an adoption of the 'unwanted child of political Islam', i.e. Islamic Feminism?

Shahnaz Khalil Khan
E-Mail: Shahnaz Khalil Khan
Project Coordinator

Prof. Dr. Nadja-Christina Schneider
Junior Professor for Mediality and Intermediality in Asian and African Societies
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Room: 220
Phone +49 (0)30 / 2093-6643

Birgit Koch
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 2093-6601
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 2093-6666

Cross-Section for Mediality and Intermediality
Institute of Asian and African Studies
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Unter den Linden 6
D-10099 Berlin